You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right ( Revolution, Lennon/McCartney)
”The legacy of Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism, in which he argued that the west possesses a monopoly on how “Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture” are viewed, was the subject of debate at the British Museum. Historian and novelist Robert Irwin kicked off by attacking what he decribed as Said’s falsification of the past and poor understanding of Arabic, and argued that his “revolutionary” assertions were in fact part of longstanding Muslim and Marxist critiques.”
The attraction of anarchy, has in part, always been partly tied to an aesthetic appeal somewhere rooted in the romantic passions and poetic emotions which have usurped the intellectual in favor of the emotional. It is hardly satisfactory, but much of its popularity falls back on the brain cramped, insufficient and unsatisfactory platitudes of the ”individual point of view” and ”it takes all sorts to make a world” , which is comforting, no doubt, in a motherhood statement sort of way; but it does not solve any of the problems of social existence and lends credence to the generally held belief that anarchy is not a sound principle on which to build a civilization. Political hegemony, requires the pairing off of opposing couples, has little patience for obscure hair-splitting from, which a balanced view may be obtained; a co-option exists on left and right which leaves an aesthetic rhetoric stripped of much of its intellectual narrative.
The recent tragedy of the Gaza Flotilla, has galvanized the more radical forces on the left, not that ”anarchists” of the Noam Chomsky school need much prodding and their antagonists of conservatively held positions seem to welcome the adventure with all the inarticualte heavy-handedness which they seem to so effortlessly master. As a media story it reflects, albeit more extremely, the equally divisive debates occurring in the United States, that has been both polarizing and almost non-sensical; as if both sides are in an opium den and each is vying for the last vial before Attlila the Hun arrives to decapitate them both.
”The great Jewish scholar, Rashi de Troyes, (1040-1105), made the astonishingly frank statement that the Genesis narrative, going back to the creation of the world, was written to justify what we might now call genocide. The God of Israel, who gave his people the Promised Land, had to be unequivocally supreme so that neither the dispossessed Canaanites nor anyone else could ever appeal against his decrees. Rashi’s precise words were that God told us the creation story and included it in the Torah “to tell his people that they can answer those who claim that the Jews stole the land from its original inhabitants. The reply should be; God made it and gave it to them but then took it and gave it to us. As he made it and it’s his, he can give it to whoever he chooses “.
For example, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, describing the difference between Jews and non-Jews:We do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather we have a case of …a totally different species…. The body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world […] The difference of the inner quality [of the body] […] is so great that the bodies would be considered as completely different species. An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness. (In Shahak & Mezvinsky 1999, 59–60)
These kind of statements, if they are true and not spiced together from forty years in the desert of contexts, shows the kind of self-deluded love of mystification and a large capacity for political and religious fantasy; and in a sense, Schneerson’s personal recklessness and idealism is mirrored by the equally religious non-Zionists, who like the revered rabbi, also exult in the thought of a clean sweep of the debris of a restrictive and inegalitarian civilization.As Mikail Bakunin ( 1814-1876 ) said, ” The passion for destruction is also a creative passion”. His remarks on the anarchists in his day would ring clear and true to the activists of the hard left today: ” They are magnificent, these young fanatics, believers without gods, heroes without rhetoric.” Fantasy meeting fantasy and often mixed with the cold blooded calculations of the con artist; a love of power mixed with the sheer lust for destruction.
This claim of Jewish uniqueness echoes Holocaust activist Elie Wiesel’s (1985, ) claim that “everything about us is different.” Jews are “ontologically” exceptional. But where did this idea really come from? This other pairing of the principle that Judaism’s precepts apply to all of God’s creatures, has always been the elephant in the room for Muslims, Jews and Christians.
In his book, The Search for The Perfect Language, Umberto Eco documents the fact that Judaism was dying among the Jews that had refugeed to Europe after the destruction of Palestine by the Romans. Hebrew was, in fact, a dead language and had to be “reinvented.” However, there was a very strange “covenant” between the priests of Judaism and the Frankish Church of the time which mandated the revivification of Judaism and the validation of the Hebrew Bible as being “delivered” from God to Adam to the Jews to Christianity. In other words, it was necessary to validate Judaism in order to then “validate” Christianity as the “one true religion.”
There is an adage that Jews are like everyone else- only more so. As such, Israel is an effective mirror of two very different conceptions of society; in which both could work , but not together.
”Wiesel pontificates that Auschwitz “represents a grave theological challenge to Christianity.” The implication is that Christians created the Holocaust and should apologize to Jews repeatedly and never criticize Israel. That is the essence of his ecumenical deal: we Jews may some day forgive what you Christians did to us (and only to us) in the Holocaust (spelled with a capital H) if you promise to ignore what we have been and continue to do to the Palestinians in our Zionist quest to build a Jewish state. Questioning any aspect of the Holocaust discourse is to be considered “Holocaust denial” and therefore evil. Might I caution your readers not to be fooled by the mystical charm of Elie Wiesel, who is the icon of what Norman Finkelstein (in his book by the same title) calls The Holocaust Industry. Far from being a great humanitarian, Wiesel, as Noam Chomsky contends, is simply “a terrible fraud.”
Wiesel is often quoted as saying that “the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.” He has devoted his life to carefully crafting articles and speeches about oppression, genocide, and man’s inhumanity to man. Yet when asked about the oppression and dehumanization of Palestinians by Israel, he “abstains” and dismisses the subject claiming “I cannot say bad things about Jews,” or “Such comparisons are unworthy.” ( Jeff Rense )
Still, as an artist, Wiesel, despite all his obscure, enigmatic and haunting elements, has a power with words, and a literary aesthetic that is unique and makes perfect sense on its own terms: the terror of the lost men without interests or cause of their own, nameless people absorbed by a single exclusive interest, a single thought, a single passion; the destruction of Judaism and Israel. And he does an admirable job of defending civil order, the educated world, laws, conventions and generally accepted conditions and ethics of this world:
”Let us not forget the context: Gaza, under Hamas, is after all a war zone. Its thousands of rockets constitute a permanent threat to Israel’s citizens. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Its charter contains a specific resolution to destroy the Jewish State and kill all the Jews. No rational person would challenge Israel’s decision to block arms shipments to this group. But Israel does allow shipments of medical aid and of food. Is such a partial blockade legal or even ethical? That problem should have been carefully considered earlier by the international community.
We know that the six vessels of the flotilla were chartered by pro-Hamas groups, the initiative coming from the most militant wing of Hamas. How could Israel be sure that they did not carry weapons to kill and destroy?
Israel’s military interception of the flotilla took place in international waters – causing Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to brazenly accuse Israel of piracy. But I remember a situation when President John F. Kennedy imposed a blockade on Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Were not Soviet ships stopped by the U.S. Navy, in self-defense?
But what about the firing on unarmed civilians, I am asked. The answer: They were not unarmed. The men on the deck of the largest vessel, the Mavi Marmara, had been waiting for the commandos – and they acted as a well-organized lynch mob. It was a setup, a trap. We know that now. They were force-oriented militants, not pacifists. They were armed, not with guns but with knives and iron rods.
When the Israeli soldiers landed on the deck, they were immediately surrounded by visibly trained men who set savagely upon them. Some of their guns were taken and used against them. Ten commando members were seriously injured and later hospitalized.
Now we also learn that some passengers appear to have received money for their participation. In other words, they were mercenaries. A million euros in cash were in their belongings. Two of the other men left video testaments as suicide bombers do before going on their missions.
One report mentions a verbal exchange between passengers and the commandos on one of the vessels. To the offer to sail peacefully to the port of Ashdod where they and their cargo would, after inspection, be transferred to Gaza, the answer came: “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz.” ( Elie Wiesel . NY Daily News )
”Like many of us around the world,( Emily ) Henochowicz, a 21-year-old Cooper Union art student, joined protests on Monday against Israel’s outrageous attack on the humanitarian flotilla. But unfortunately, the protest Emily attended was in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and like so many protests in the West Bank, it was violently attacked by the IDF. According to a report from the International Solidarity Movement, Emily was “hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today.” Sören Johanssen, a Swedish activist standing beside Henochowicz, reported that, “They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”‘( Naomi Klein )
Tactically, the West Bank should be assisted into prosperity and statehood as long as it accepts the legitimacy of Israel, and Gaza should be economically strangled as long as it does not. And crypto-terrorist, meddling poseurs such as this Turkish flotilla cannot be tolerated….The reports of Israeli military inefficiency, especially after the bungled attack on Hezbollah in 2006, are disconcerting, but the West must stop hedging and havering. Israel has the greatest claim to legitimacy of any country except the five official founders of the United Nations. It has made mistakes but has persisted nobly and has been shamefully persecuted by morally inferior regimes. Those who attack Israel must be responded to as they were by Ariel Sharon: two eyes for an eye and two teeth for one, until the persecution stops. In full and deeply respectful knowledge of the significance of the phrase, the final solution of the Israel question is and always has been its absolute, permanent and secure establishment as a Jewish state. ( Conrad Black )
Go back to your woods. Helen Thomas resigned after comments regarding where Jews should make their residence ” They should go home. Poland. Germany. And America, and everywhere else,” which echoed what many like Naomi Klein and Norman Finkelstein advocate, though in less crude terms the same general theme of packing up the plantation and growing egos on a kibbutz on a sand dune in the Pacific for example. Mrs. Thomas likely looked in the mirror one morning and said ”I look like an old Yenta from the backwoods of Poland myself, and I’m fed up of shlepping my fat keegster to my plush chair. The writer became the written about, and she gained her fifteen minutes of national celebrity, or notoriety, which exposed her dogmatic positions on U.S. foreign policy.She has been through the looking glass often enough, and still never really understood whats going on, and never will; or when to open her mouth and when to keep it shut.